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Snowguy716

Linguistics

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I find this topic fascinating. I thought I'd post a few things in old and middle English, because it's fun to see how our language has changed so much over the past 1500 years.

The prologue to Chaucers Canterbury tales: Keep in mind that all letters are pronounced, so the word Knight was not pronounced like we say it, but the K was pronounced and the gh was like a German ch, coming out k-nicht.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

And bathed euery veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in euery holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe course yronne,

And smale fowles maken melodye,

That slepen al the niȝt with open ye

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Bad memories there. I had to read part of Beowulf in old English and it was torture.

I did get a prose edition of The Canterbury Tales, and it was hilarious.

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good thing we don't use old english, it is kind of funny how some words changed so much.

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Old English was vastly more complex than modern English. First of all, you had genders for all nouns like German still has, with masculine, feminine, and neuter. Then you had to alter the nouns based on how you were using them in the sentence.. hence Heofunum (for heaven) comes from the root heofun (which sounds more like heaven).

Also, conjugating verbs was much harder as there were more forms. That's why, even in middle english, you had thee thy thou thine, etc. whereas we have simply you yours and my mine. This is mostly because we no longer have a polite and impolite form of addressing someone, which most languages have (German's du and Sie) and we don't distinguish between "we have, they have, you guys have" with verbs.

But what is even more interesting is studying the roots of words in English to see where they came from.

Most words come from German. (In fact, every word in the last sentence came from German except German, ironically, which came from a Latin transliteration of the old Frankish word for the Germanic peoples). The German word for Germans in English up until the 16th century was Dutch, very similar to the German word Deutsch.

Some useless, though fascinating (at least in my opinion) facts:

Some sayings in English that have words we no longer use:

Fare well. Fare comes from the middle english faren, meaning to travel.. similar to Germans fahren.

The olden days.. similar to Germans alten, meaning old

Youngen.. very similar to German Jungen meaning boy or boys.

There are also some words in German which take two English words to describe.

H

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One of the coolest things about humanity is the constant evolution of languages. After a few thousand years of separation and separate evolution between English and its Germanic root language, German is amazingly "anglicizing" with words like "Der Teenager", "Der Computer", "Das Internet"...

It is rare that you see ads in German without english words in it. "Die coole top hits auf Radio Austria".. in contrast to French, which is seeking to keep the integrity of the language by adopting "french" words for things that were invented in English speaking countries.

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I'm currently taking a course that has been studing the Germanic peoples and their spread and rise to importance in Europe during the last 2 millennia. If you were to read the book Beowulf in the original print, it would look something like the Lord's Prayer above. It makes me wonder what English will be like in another 1500 years... by far one of hte most amiable languages in the world with an unusually large vocabulary borrowing from many languages.. truly a mut of languages.

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Thanks for all that information. It is all very interesting. I wasn't going back all that far, and concentrating mostly on the German since I know German and English pretty fluently.

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I'm intrigued by alterations in language. An example is the Acadians (my ancestors!!) in New Brunswick, Canada. They have a language called Chiac, which is basically a weird mix of French and certain english words here and there. This is how languages are formed.

Chiac-Wikipedia

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Thanks for all that information. It is all very interesting. I wasn't going back all that far, and concentrating mostly on the German since I know German and English pretty fluently.

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MadVlad. There is certainly English words but the French here looks Picard to me or regional French ("Ej vas, j'erviens,

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It is rare that you see ads in German without english words in it. "Die coole top hits auf Radio Austria".. in contrast to French, which is seeking to keep the integrity of the language by adopting "french" words for things that were invented in English speaking countries.

At the same time, English is being influenced by Spanish in the U.S.

Will we all speak one language one day? My gut feeling is no. What I think will happen, is that there will be an adopted international language that everyone speaks (at the moment, english), and then people will speak their native tongue within their native country. The international language "dillemma" has probably saved the diversity of languages in the world, as people will not have to change their languages to try and keep up and communicate with others.

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Especially interesting to note the influence and evolution of English into non-Teutonic (in other words, linguistically unrealted) languages: Spanglish, Hinglish, et. al. Also interesting is how some ancient migrations in huamn history end up reflected in current languages, like the very far-flung Mongol-derived languages spoken in various places across Eurasia, or the lingusitic relation between some N Indian languages and some European ones...

I wonder if the varied forms of English (European, N American, S African, Caribbean, Indian, Australian) will end up evolving into different languages within the same group.

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I could talk about the Francophonie, there is an amazing richness of words and expressions in the regional French and the French spoken out of France, there is a specific Acadian vocabulary for instance, it's fantastic (The Acadian is cognate with the Poitevin-Saintongeais).

Thousands of words are not listed in the biggest dictionnaries while they are used, not to mention the obscure meanings a well-known word can have. These terms could benefit to the "academic" language.

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